What is Parcells's Approach in Miami?

Bill Parcells has been a highly successful rebuilder of NFL teams.

But he's been less than perfect in recent years. He left Dallas without winning a playoff game during his tenure as Cowboys coach. And his signing of Chad Pennington in Miami to take over as the Dolphins' quarterback leaves open the question: What exactly is his approach in Miami as he attempts to turn around a club that went 1-15 last season?

Parcells, after being hired as the club's front office czar, picked a seemingly unnecessary fight with the best player he inherited, Jason Taylor, over the former NFL defensive player of the year's participation in the "Dancing with the Stars" competition during the offseason. Parcells alienated Taylor and ended up trading him to the Washington Redskins.

Fine. At least Parcells got something for Taylor. But by dealing away one of his few competent players, Parcells signaled that the Dolphins were starting over. They would take their lumps for a few seasons and try to assemble a team capable of winning a few years into the future. The logical thing to do would have been to choose one of the team's young quarterbacks, John Beck or Chad Henne, to be the starter and give him a chance to develop in hopes that he'd be a capable quarterback by the time the club around him was ready to be a playoff contender.

Instead, the Dolphins have brought in a 32-year-old quarterback with a history of arm troubles. Does that really make sense on the heels of the Taylor trade? If the priority was to try to return to respectability as quickly as possible, shouldn't the Dolphins have retained Taylor? And if the approach was to start over from scratch, shouldn't they have stayed away from Pennington and given one of their young quarterbacks a chance to play immediately?

Parcells clearly knows how to build--and rebuild--football teams. But these two moves, taken together, don't seem to make much sense.

By Mark Maske |  August 9, 2008; 12:51 PM ET  | Category:  Dolphins
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Some thoughts from a former Washingtonian, now resident in South Florida.

First, I think the Taylor controversy was more of Taylor's making than Parcells'. Taylor had a wonderful career in Miami, but had no interest in finishing there at the start of a rebuilding phase. In the end, Taylor's happy, the Redskins are happy, and Parcells got fair value.

Second, Pennington is a happy short-term solution for the Dolphins, if he can stay healthy. So he hasn't got a cannon for an arm; who do the Dolphins have to receive a long pass? Ted Ginn? Maybe someday, but not yet. Meanwhile, Pennington has some pretty good backs and a serviceable tight end with whom to work the short passing game.

Also, using Pennington saves Henne and Beck from being thrown into the fire before they are ready. If Beck has potential --a big if-- last year's catastrophe all but destroyed his confidence. Pennington has leadership and mentoring skills.

Parcells still has cap room and roster spots to work with. I'd be interested in hearing some league gossip on what further building block(s) Parcells might pick up before the end of preseason. Such speculation appears to be of no interest or beyond the grasp of our local sports-writers.

Posted by: Lou Sernoff | August 9, 2008 3:46 PM

A proven veteran QB like Pennington can win games and be an excellent mentor for the young QB's. Taylor will be missed for sure but he would've been forced to learn a new position in the 3-4 defense, no guarantees he would've flourished in the new role.

Parcells and Sparano have already taken the crucial step of beefing up the size and power of Miami's offensive and defensive lines, so the physicality of the team is actually looking quite good. With typical Parcells' toughness coming from the top down combined with their easy last-place schedule and the Fins could shock the NFL this season.

Posted by: Rick | August 9, 2008 4:27 PM

less than perfect? are the cowboys not considered to be the best team in the nfc going into the season?
also, the decision to pick up pennington is a no-brainer. the dolphins have nothing with the three guys already there and pennington is a competent game manager with a career completion percentage of over 65%.
it would be my guess that the dolphins offense will likely be run heavy anyway, with a lot of screens going to ronnie and ricky.

Posted by: sam | August 9, 2008 5:42 PM

Not to mention that Parsells drafted Pennington in 2000 when he was the Jets GM.

He was the reason for the cheer:

J-E-T-S Suck - Suck - Suck!

Posted by: Cheesehead | August 10, 2008 1:26 PM

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